Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fun Can Be Hard Work

One of the best parts about working in the minors is that a major job responsibility is to generate fun.

A fun (and funny) atmosphere is at the heart of every one of our games. We are, for all intents & purposes, staging a fun-filled show each night in which there just happens to be some baseball being played, as well.

From t-shirt tosses to pink apes to dunk tanks to dizzy bats to pork rind sculptures to rally chickens to jousts to jugglers to processed meats racing on the warning track, you are sure to see something at every game that is unique, strange, and perhaps borderline insane...but above all, fun!

With that in mind, our staff met today with an expert in the Art of Fun (or, "Emperor of Fun" as it says on his business card), Dave Raymond, who for years was the man behind the antics of the Philly Phanatic (boooooo) and now helms the company that brings Reggy to KeySpan Park (yaaaaay).

Dave talked to us about some of his experiences as a mascot and a fun facilitator, and about what we can do to make the ballpark experience even more fun for all those involved.

One thing he said, in particular, rang true to me as it relates to the Cyclones. "We're giving fun away for free every night, but it is extremely valuable." It's can't put a price tag on the enjoyment or memories a family gets during their time with the Cyclones. And that's something we try to keep in mind with everything that we implement. Almost every new idea, giveaway, or promotion is followed by the questions "Will the fans like it? Will they think it's fun?" (And sometimes we even think the answer might be yes!)

He also talked about a few other things that help in the process of fun-building -- things that I think we do a pretty good job of:
  • Leadership. The people at the top have to foster a fun and creative environment for the staff. Check. Our GM occasionally dresses in a pink gorilla suit, sings showtunes at street fairs, encourages practical jokes, wackiness and creativity, and engages in countless other fun antics)
  • Consistent Culture. Recognize the sense of humor of your group and its audience, and develop it daily. Focus on your strengths and build on them. Check. We're a tad bit dark and/or sarcastic at times, but that's us...and most of New York...and we have fun with it. Much of it is admittedly unsuitable for publication (i.e. Joyce as Atlas...long story...don't ask) but those things that do make it through our not-so-stringent filter seem to strike a chord with our core Brooklyn fans.
  • Find the Funkillers. There will always be people who want to tell you why an idea WON'T work. Find them quickly. Embrace them and use them to help shape your idea until it WILL work. Or...just beat them over the head with fun until they see the light. Dave compared it to walking into a prison yard and picking a fight with the biggest, baddest, meanest guy you can find, as a means of taking a stand and establishing credibility. Steve noted that he would keep that in mind the next time he went to prison.
We've said for years that what's most important for a night or an idea to be succesful is that we as a staff are 100% behind it and having fun with it. Only then can we expect you guys to get behind it an enjoy it as well. Kind of like this blog -- an inside joke that's caught on with those outside the joke...who, by catching on, are now on the inside.

If you come to a game and you're laughing (or even chuckling, smirking, booing, or wondering what in H-E-double-hockey-sticks you just saw), then we consider the night a success -- win or lose.

So rest assured, Brooklyn baseball is not far away. And in the few months until Opening Day, I can promise you that we're hard at work on being as silly as we can
and coming up with ideas that will make this summer one of the most fun you've ever had!

"Fun with a Purpose" as Mr. Raymond would say. (In my humble opinion, "Fun with a Porpoise" would be even better, but whatever.)

-- Dave


Colin Ferm said...

I love the Cyclones and attended a lot of games last year. I love the hot dog race and a lot of the other between-inning activities. The kids always look like they're having fun.

But... for me a fun killer is King Henry. I don't understand why that guy is around. He seems like all he does is promote himself. Is that the plan? Did he pay to be there? Because if the Cyclones are paying him... I think you could probably find better uses.

That said, I'm really excited by the upcoming season. June can't come soon enough. Go Cyclones!

Joyce said...

I'm growing resentful of being volunteered for inappropriate images in this office.

I'm printing out the Atlas pic and bringing it to our HR diversity training next week.